Morrow was not impressive right away at the University of California. He emerged as a prospect in the Cape Cod League in 2005.
Brandon credits his father, John, with teaching him the game.
"My dad would get up at 4:00 in the morning so he could get off work by late afternoon,” Morrow said. “He’d put the bats, ball and gloves in this little wagon, and we’d walk down to Caterpillar Park. There’s no diamond there, just grass.”
The neighborhood kids would all be there waiting for the Morrows to show up with the gear. The elder Morrow was playing competitive softball then, and he liked teaching the game.
“Brandon was younger than the other kids,” he said. “I think he was 6 and most of them were 8 or 9. They’d choose up teams and Brandon was never chosen because he was the youngest.
“I told them if Brandon didn’t play, I wouldn’t play. That was the deal.”
John played countless hours of catch with Brandon and his younger brothers, Garrett and Scott.
Brandon began living and breathing baseball. He wanted to play from sunup to sundown.
“Bath time was 8 o’clock, and we’d play catch until then,” John recalled. “We played a plus-minus game. If he missed a throw or grounder, he got a minus. If he made a catch, he got a plus. A minus three would mean he had to take a bath. His skills improved to the point where I would have to throw him short hops or harder fly balls to get to minus three.”
When he was 9, Brandon wanted to pitch.
“I painted a plate in the street out in front of our house. You can still see where it was,” John said. “I’d put a stepstool next to the plate, and it would represent the imaginary batter. Brandon loved it. He used to pitch to me for hours on end.”
After high school, Morrow was a 40th round pick by the Angels. But he chose a baseball scholarship to Cal State-Berkeley.
"Dad said I’d improve by playing college ball and would get drafted higher when I got better. Dad steered me right,” Morrow said.
During three years playing for the Bears, and with the help of pitching coach Dan Hubbs, scouts were clocking Morrow’s fastball at 99 miles per hour with their radar guns.
After Morrow’s junior year in 2006, the Mariners selected him in the fifth round, and he signed. But to this day, he says he follows the lessons learned from his father every day.
John, who now coaches the Rancho Cotate High School team in Rohnert Park, CA (north of San Francisco), is living the dream of every father who has taught his child a sport.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “My wife, Sharon, and I were not the type of parents that always boasted about their children. The best thing I did was teach him to love the game and enjoy the competition.”
During the winter before 2007 spring camp, Morrow worked out in Peoria, Arizona with James Clifford, the minor league strength and conditioning coordinator. So he was at full strength at the start of spring training.
In 2007, Baseball America rated Brandon as third best prospect in the Mariners organization.
Morrow is quiet, but is coming out of his shell.
Morrow is a Type 1 diabetic who was diagnosed as a senior in high school. He wears an insulin pump to regulate his blood sugar levels.
Morrow is married. His wife's name is Lily.
Aug 26-29, 2016: Brandon was on the paternity list.
June 2006: The Mariners chose Morrow in the first round, out of the University of California. He became the highest draft pick in school history, going fifth overall. He signed for $2.45 million via scout Stacey Pettis.
December 22, 2009: The Blue Jays sent Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez to the Mariners, acquiring Morrow.
January 18, 2011: Brandon signed with the Blue Jays for $2.3 million, avoiding salary arbitration.
January 24, 2012: Morrow signed a three-year contract with the Blue Jays for $20 million.
December 16, 2014: Brandon signed a one-year $2.5 million contract with the Padres. Morrow can earn an additional $5 million in bonuses for starting and $1 million for relieving.
December 18, 2015: The Padres signed free agent Morrow.
January 27, 2017: Brandon signed with the Dodgers organization.
Nov 2, 2017: Brandon chose free agency.
Dec. 10, 2017: The Cubs and Morrow agreed on a two-year, $21 million deal.
Nov 4, 2019: Brandon chose free agency.
- Dec 13, 2019: The Cubs organization signed Morrow. If Morrow reaches the Majors, he will have a base salary of $1 million (plus incentives). Morrow had a nerve decompression procedure in September 2019, and the Cubs opted to pay him a $3 million buyout, rather than picking up a $12 million team option for the 2020 season.
|Birth City:||Santa Rosa, CA|
|Draft:||Mariners #1 - 2006 - Out of Univ. of California|
|2019||NL||CUBS - IL||$10,500.00|
Morrow has an overpowering 93-99 mph FASTBALL and an 86-90 mph SLIDER and quality. And he added a 91-94 mph CUTTER n 2016.
When you're throwing a fastball that's consistently 98 mph and topping out at 101, that's more than enough in most situations. The only one where it's not is for a Major League starter and hitters will eventually figure out how to time your fastball. So Brandon's a reliever.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 60.3% of the time, with an average velo of 97.9 mph; Slider 20.6% of the time, at 89.1 mph; and Cutter 19% of the time that averaged 92.6 mph..
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 72.8% of the time, his Slider 13.5%; and Cutter 13.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 98.2 mph, Slider 88.9, and Cutter 92.6 mph.
- Brandon has a pure, quick right arm and an ideal pitcher's build. He maintains a clean, repeatable delivery.
In 2007, he worked to keep a more consistent release point, keeping his head focused on the target.
In 2010, Morrow lowered his arm slot, with the help of Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton. It keeps Brandon from coming directly over the top. It helps him keep the ball down in the strike zone better.
"I think his arm slot now fits the load and go he had," Walton said, referring to why Morrow has had better results out of the stretch. "His motion looks very smooth, with a load and go that's around 1.25–1.30 seconds. His arm slot goes very well with the load and go."
- Morrow's secondary pitches lack consistency.
- Brandon needs to improve his control and overall feel for the strike zone.
- He displays excellent poise on the mound.
Though Morrow's career path may again lead him to the starting rotation, he likes working in relief.
"It really doesn't matter to me what I do," Brandon said. "I really like coming in as a reliever in the late innings, with guys on base. But I also like starting and trying to make it at least five to seven innings."
- On August 8, 2010, Morrow almost pitched a no-hitter while striking out 17 Tampa Bay Rays. Only an Evan Longoria single with two outs in the ninth kept Brandon from a no-no.
Brandon had a breakout season in 2012. And his evolution as a pitcher was on full display. Then-Blue Jays manager John Farrell believes the crispness of his secondary offerings, to complement his upper-90s fastball, was the key.
"The feel of his curveball and the consistent execution of it, which was more evident than his start in Baltimore [his first start back from the DL]," Farrell said when asked what the biggest difference in Morrow was from last season. "He spent a lot of time on that in spring training, and has reaped the rewards from the emphasis on that. He's always had the ability to spin a baseball."
Farrell also feels that he is doing a much better job holding runners on, which in turn has prevented baserunners from reaching scoring position on him.
"He's reduced his unloading time by two- to three-tenths of a second, which, as it relates to controlling base-stealers, that's a huge difference," Farrell said in 2012.
His stuff is absolutely filthy, according to Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey.
"His stuff is really, really good. It just jumps," Hickey said. "He just hides the ball well with that little bit of quarter turn he has, and he throws strikes."
Cubs teammate Ben Zobrist said, "He's got a real smooth delivery. It looks effortless, and it's coming at you pretty hard. He's got a 4-seam that has good carry and just gets above the barrel a little bit." (April, 2018)
- As of the start of the 2020 season, Morrow had a career record of 51-43 with 3.96 ERA, having allowed 88 home runs and 761 hits in 859 innings with 877 strikeouts. Brandon had converted 40 out of 50 saves (80%).
- Brandon holds runners on base better better than he used to, controlling the running game.
In high school, Morrow was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and wears an insulin pump when not on the mound. During games, he monitors his blood sugar, checking between innings to see if he needs a burst of sugar or shot of insulin. In fact, he keeps an insulin pump in his back pocket.
"It's really not that bad," Morrow said about his diabetes. "I call it more an inconvenience than anything else. I check my blood sugar between innings. It's pretty easy to stay level, especially as a pitcher. It's probably harder for a position player."
2005: Brandon battled arm problems his sophomore year at the University of California.
July 2006: The Mariners were cautious in using Brandon, because he was battling a little tendinitis in a sore right elbow and forearm soreness.
March 2008: Morrow was sidelined for two weeks in the middle of spring camp with a sore right shoulder. When he returned, he struggled with his control.
April 24-May 9, 2009: Brandon was on the D.L. with right biceps tendinitis.
March 21, 2011: Morrow started the season on the D.L. with inflammation in the flexor muscle of his right elbow.
June 12-August 25, 2012: Brandon was on the D.L. with a strained oblique muscle in his left side.
May 29-end of 2013 season: On May 28, Morrow was forced to depart an outing against the Braves after just two innings because of discomfort. An MRI didn't reveal any structural damage, but it took a little while for the pain to subside.
July 25, 2013: Morrow's season came to an end after he was diagnosed with an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm. He was still attempting to avoid surgery on the that nerve in his forearm in the middle of September, having finished a six-week moratorium from throwing. (Surgery would require three months of rehab to recover.)
May 3-Sept. 2. 2014: Morrow was placed on the 60-day DL because of a torn tendon in his right index finger.
May 3-July 1, 2015: Brandon was on the 60-day D.L. with right shoulder inflammation.
August 2015: Morrow had surgery on his right shoulder, which was diagnosed with an impingement.
April 2-21: 2016: Brandon began the year on the D.L.
June 17-27, 2018: Brandon was on the DL with lower back tightness. Morrow injured his back taking his pants off early Monday when he got home after the Cubs' road trip."It's frustrating any time you can't get out there, especially when you can't go for something as stupid as taking your pants off," Morrow said on Tuesday. "Getting hurt any time is frustrating, but when it's not related to throwing a baseball, it's even more frustrating."
July 19, 2018: Brandon was on the DL with right biceps inflammation.
September 18-Nov 2, 2018: Brandon was shut down for the remainder of the 2018 season. He had been optimistic after throwing one inning of a simulated game on September 15, in Chicago, but when he tried to reach for a cup of coffee on the 17th and couldn't pick it up because of discomfort in his right forearm, the Cubs reliever knew his season was done.
Nov.2018: The Chicago Cubs are likely to be without closer Brandon Morrow for the early portion of 2019 after the righty had minor surgery on his elbow. "This was a cleanup of some cartilage, done arthroscopically," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
March 25, 2019: Brandon continues on the IL with rehab from offseason right elbow debridement.Aug 21, 2019: Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced that Morrow was done for the 2019 season following another setback with his right arm. Morrow, who has been on the injured list since Opening Day, is scheduled to see specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache.
The 35-year-old Morrow was diagnosed with radial tunnel syndrome in July and underwent a procedure to decompress the radial nerve in the arm on July 29. Epstein said a "likely next step" for Morrow this time would be a radial nerve release and decompression surgery.
Sept 2019: Morrow had a nerve decompression procedure.
Feb. 22, 2020: After missing last year's season due to elbow issues, the Chicago Cubs reliever has started out spring training dealing with a chest strain. There's no clear date for when he might get back into action.
Feb. 29, 2020: Morrow has a mild calf tear (Grade 1 plus) and will miss 10-14 days.